Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of my state-sanctioned big gay wedding. It was beautiful. I hadn’t expected it to feel different from my outlaw wedding in August, 2011, but it did, and it continues to feel different. Legal marriage is more powerful, which is probably why certain factions are trying so hard to hoard it.
Last night, at 3 a.m., my wife and I had a long, meandering conversation that we tend to specialize in at 3 a.m. And she told me something that I wanted to set down here because I can’t stop thinking about it.
We all work from patterns. You know this. We do things in the way we do them because they are familiar to us. We take our route to work. We show up for our kids at the times they expect us. We anticipate our routines because we created them. We built the patterns in our lives.
And, of course, our pattern in relationships has caused us to suffer. That seeking of home — of familiarity — often means that we end up with the dysfunction, dishonesty, and poor boundaries we grew up around. At first that familiarity is comforting. I know this! This is so great! And then we quickly remember that this is a story we have lived over and over. We know every detail and climax and revelation. We know exactly how it ends. And here we are again. Living the same fucking relationship.
That can be discouraging. It can begin to feel like there is something deeply wrong with us. Isn’t it enough that I came here with my best intentions? How do I keep picking the same same?
But here’s the thing. We are the shiny light in the dark. We are. We are chosen because we are glowing. Our compassion and empathy and kindness make us appealing. And sometimes our best intentions, our desire to love and care for another person, are used against us. And we begin to worry that we have drawn that pain deep into our center because we are broken and small and destructive.
Love is a story. Relationships are built on patterns. And we tell ourselves the story of love because we are going to write the ending that we want. We are. That is the endeavor. To live according to our best choices. To love according to our most ambitious desires. To earn the person that we love by being the person they deserve. We write each other into being.
My wife is the person I see most clearly in the world. And that is sometimes difficult for her. Nobody holds up to scrutiny all the time. I don’t always appreciate the way that I am seen.
Writing the story is hard. Sometimes my wife just refuses to participate in my storyline for her. Sometimes I have to remember that I am only writing my self, and she is writing her self, and the storylines twist in and out of orbit. We are not planets. She is the most familiar unfamiliar story that I have. In a constant edit. Unfinished. Unknown.
Anything might happen.
Five years ago, I might still have said that she was my path home. To the place we have made together.
But it’s more than that. She’s the story I can’t anticipate. The one that tests every part of my skill and character and resolve. That shows me the ways I am not my best. But allows me, always, the chance to be better and do better, and be loved as though there were nothing wrong with me. As though I, too, am constantly rewritten, a more complicated sentence guiding me into another curious place. And somewhere ahead, a glowing light.